But recent events have taken American Swimming from being in the headlines for the right reasons to it now being in there for all the wrong ones.
In the last week, 4 American Swimmers, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, James Feigen and Ryan Lochte all claimed they had been held up at gunpoint on a night out in Rio. Suspiciously, Rio police were concerned about the consistency in the athlete’s story and thus issued search and seize warrants for all four of them. They went as far as pulling Bentz and Conger off their USA bound plane, whilst Lochte had already returned to the United States.
Now video evidence has now come to light which shows the athletes vandalising a petrol station and confronting guards. The athletes were never held at gunpoint like they claimed and they have now been asked to “apologize to the city of Rio.”
Ryan Lochte has been pinpointed as the ringleader of the athletes, and it’s been said he got into a drunk and angry debacle with security guards.
I have lost any respect whatsoever for all four of these American athletes. They knowingly lied to the authorities about the incident and went to large lengths to cover it up. Being athletes who children look up to, they obviously don’t understand the meaning of the word responsibility. For example, Ryan Lochte is one of the most successful Olympic swimmers with a total of 12 Gold Medals won in his career. For someone with such a career, he is setting an exceptionally low example for any young swimmer out there. You may say we all make mistakes, but the major problem in their case is the cover up. They consciously decided to fabricate a story to cover up what was only a small bit of vandalism. This disgusts me considerably. If I was in charge, I would never let them back to the Olympics.
Although the motive for lying is still not clear, I feel this is a case of arrogance and misjudgment of how good the police in Rio de Janeiro are. These athletes appear to have presumed that they wouldn’t get caught by the authorities.
Out of all four of them though, Lochte has angered, annoyed and irritated me the most. By the time this story was breaking, he had returned to the US and yet he continued to give interviews and statements (from his attorney) about how he was robbed. Even when he had the chance to admit the truth and not face the Rio police directly, he continued to lie through his teeth.
I think this incident is an extremely important lesson for everyone. What this demonstrates is that sometimes it’s better to just own up to something than construct a lie. This is because it might save you for the time being, but it will come back to bite you in the bum, like it has to these four humiliated athletes.
Author: Steven Walton
Steven Walton is a 16 year old student currently attending St Andrews College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was brought up with two older brothers and his big passions are sports (especially motorsport), people and writing. He runs his own motorsport blog, Green Flag F1 (www.greenflagf1.com) and is aspiring to be a journalist when he is older.